As we lift up and celebrate the role of women in our country and our world, I suggest that some group promote what might be called the “Three First Ladies of America” made as statues. Or, they might be called the three sisters of America — liberty, justice and responsibility.

The first sister, Liberty, stands on Liberty Island, New York City. She holds a welcoming torch in her right hand, and at her feet is a broken shackle and chain, commemorating the national abolition of slavery. She was dedicated in 1886, and she has since become an icon of freedom and a symbol of welcome to millions of immigrants.

The second sister is named Justice, and appears blindfolded with a balance scale in her right hand and a sword in her left. She is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems.

The youngest sister is named Responsibility, but she is also known as “The Madonna of the Trail.” In statue form, she is seen as a pioneer woman facing west with a baby in her arms and a child at her feet. She is assuming responsibility for her children while exercising her freedom of decision-making to head into the then-unknown wilderness.

There are 12 statues to “The Madonna of the Trail,” which are placed in every state through which the National Old Trails Road passes. One, 18 feet tall, is in Lexington, Missouri.

I am intrigued by these three sisters and what they symbolize as the three “First Ladies of America.”

Mel West is a Columbia resident.


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